Military audience reflects on leadership and faith

By FORSCOM Public AffairsMay 29, 2024

Fort Liberty Soldiers, Civilians, and Veterans, gathered for a luncheon as part of a National Day of Prayer, to pay tribute to servicemembers who lost their lives during military service. The luncheon was prior to Memorial Day celebrations and highlighted their service with the theme, “Strengthening the Soul of the Leader.”

Retired Chaplain, Maj. Jeff Struecker, a former U.S. Army Ranger, spoke at the luncheon and reiterated the significance of the day.

“I want you to know how important today’s event is to our nation.,” he said. “I pray that you pour everything you’ve got into the future leaders of the U.S. military because they are the ones who will get it done in the next fight; it will be those who can gather their strength in the face of certain death who will do their job,” said Struecker, “and it will be the souls of those leaders who will get it done.”

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Struecker served 23 years with the Army which included 17 combat deployments in five different wars.  He retired as an Army Chaplain with 22 years of military service, is a 2017 inductee into the Army Ranger Hall of Heroes, and well known for his Army service in Mogadishu, Somalia, during the 1993 events featured in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.”

He recounted to the audience how, during 1993 Army recovery efforts to find missing Soldiers, his unit came under heavy fire from armed Somali militiamen. The loss of one of his fellow Rangers at the beginning of the operation shook the entire team’s faith and confidence, but Struecker explained that his faith in God inspired a sense of peace and comfort in Soldiers who heard his reassuring voice over the radio during the armed fire fight.

Struecker holds a doctorate as well as numerous earned and honorary degrees, and he has taught leadership classes at the undergraduate and PhD level. He authored six books and regularly hosts a podcast.

The luncheon was part of a series of nationwide events for the recent National Day of Prayer; an annual day of observance designated by Congress and held on the first Thursday of May since it was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on April 17, 1952. Congress amended the law for President Ronald Reagan's signature on May 5, 1988, designating the first Thursday of each May as the annual National Day of Prayer.

As commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, Gen. George Washington, recognized a day of "fasting, humiliation, and prayer" proclaimed by the Continental Congress on May 6, 1779. To enable Revolutionary War soldiers to observe the day, Washington even ordered a one-day cessation of recreation and "unnecessary labor.”

President Joseph Biden was quoted as saying in a White House proclamation that for centuries, Americans of every religion and background have come together to lift up one another and our Nation in prayer.

“Throughout America’s history, faith, and prayer have helped fuel some of the greatest moral missions of our time — from the abolition of slavery to the fight for voting rights and the Civil Rights Movement,” said Biden. “Many of our Nation’s greatest leaders have been motivated by faith to push all of us toward a more perfect Union and to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice,” he said adding, “May we remember that nothing is beyond our capacity if we act together.”

Col. Dave Bowlus is the U.S. Army Forces Command Chaplain. It was his office that hosted the nondenominational event and as a huge proponent of spiritual readiness, Bowlus was eager to share his thoughts on the importance of the gathering.

“One of the event’s goals was to build spiritual readiness in FORSCOM headquarters,” he said. “Spiritual readiness is a foundational domain of health in the Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness strategy according to Army Field Manual 7-22, so spiritual readiness provides numerous and vital protective factors in military and daily life,” said Bowlus.

The Army Chaplaincy has faithfully provided care for the Warriors’ soul and spirit for the last 250 years he added saying, “will continue to fulfill this high calling in our current and future conflicts.”

The Fort Liberty event preceded Memorial Day and the 80th anniversary commemorations of World War II events surrounding the D-Day invasion of Europe. The event served to provide the military audience in attendance with inspiring examples of military service and sacrifice.